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The End of Postwar History? (October 18, 1963)

In his first policy statement, Ludwig Erhard reviews Konrad Adenauer’s chancellorship and offers a sober analysis of the challenges facing Germany. According to Erhard, German policy must continue to focus on ending the Cold War and strengthening European and Atlantic cooperation. He cautions against complacency and urges Germans to continue exhibiting the drive that led to their economic success. He also warns against interest groups and calls for policies that benefit all.

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Grand Policy Statement by Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, October 18, 1963

[ . . . ]

This government is a coalition government based on trusting partnership. It is buttressed by commonly agreed upon principles, which will also find expression in this declaration. We have largely overcome the material consequences of the war and have been able to meet many urgent social tasks by building up a flourishing economy. The democratic order of our country is firmly in place, and the Federal Republic has found security in the Western alliance system. But our people remain divided. One segment is allowed to enjoy freedom; the other lives in a state of non-freedom [Unfreiheit] imposed from without. Despite encouraging initial steps, the project of European integration is by no means complete. The free world still lacks the firm ties that will enable it to successfully tackle its political, economic, and social tasks. Even this brief survey shows that the tasks that lie ahead of us are of great importance. We have to look ahead.

Not only the Federal Republic, but the entire world, is about to step out of the postwar era. The peoples of the world have been set in motion. We certainly cannot direct the flow of time, but we will safely steer our ship. In this age, German politicians are also called to action; they have to work just as effectively to advance the unity and strength of the Western alliance as they do to advocate peace and the resolution of questions of national concern. Freedom is such a precious and universal value that a nation betrays itself by renouncing it. Our polices must continue to be focused on helping to bring about an end to the Cold War, which the Soviets have been waging for one and a half decades, above all by refusing Germans in the Soviet zone their right to self-determination. Therefore, German policies, domestic and foreign, will always have to be internationally oriented and will have to be designed in a more liberal manner than ever before in our history. They will contribute to strengthening European and Atlantic cooperation, and in the process they will remain ever conscious of the fateful importance of close cooperation and solidarity with all our allies.

The more we harness our strengths and make them useful for the future of our people, the more effectively we will be able to confront the dangers facing the Federal Republic. From now on, more than ever before, our national solidarity will be put to the test and called upon to prove itself. After the war, the creative energies of the German people mostly served the economic reconstruction of our country. Thanks to our liberal policies, members of all strata of our society have ample room for their own development. Economic competition weighed our strengths and reinforced them. As a result, the Federal Republic has become one of the greatest economic powers in the world today. This strength is based not only on its industrial power, on the achievements of agriculture, trade, the crafts, and the independent professions, on the efforts and abilities of entrepreneurs, blue- and white-collar workers, and all the members of the civil service, it is also based on the enrichment of our work through science and research. The final product should be a source of pride for all its makers.

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